'Nomadic' pensioner, 92, died after falling into canal as he tried to reach his boat

Staffordshire | News | Published:

A 92 year old man who lived a 'nomadic' lifestyle died after falling into the Rugeley canal trying to access his boat, a court heard.

The body of William Dudley Curwen was found in the canal near Leathermill Lane on January 25 by a group of teenagers, who called the police after making the discovery.

During an inquest at Cannock Coroners Court, it was said that Mr Curwen could have been trying to gain access to the canal boat he lived on before slipping and fracturing his neck in the process.

The court heard that tests carried out on Mr Curwen found no trace of alcohol in his system. He didn't have a history of medical illness, although he wasn't registered to a GP.

Coroner Andrew Haigh delivered a verdict of accidental death during Mr Curwen's inquest.

He said: "I have been told that Mr Curwen was 92, a good age and for many years he lived on a canal boat, leading a somewhat nomadic existence.

"He was in good health although he didn't like to go to a doctors for regular check ups.

"We have heard that he was very safety concious about his boat and would take care to ensure no accidents happened."

Mr Curwen had a son, Stephen, who was 55 years old at the time of his father's death.


Officers said that a conversation he had on the phone with Stephen was the last time he was known to be alive.

During the conversation, he had mentioned plans to paint his boat and carry out some refurbishments over the coming days.

The coroner ruled out any third party involvement in the death and said that Mr Curwen had been found with his mobile phone and keys on him.

Mr Haigh said: "According to DC Emma Walker, who was the officer at the scene, the boat had been painted and was fully locked at the time.


"DC Walker commented that she had found it difficult to get on to the boat.

"I accept he was someone who wanted to be safety concious at all times but he was 92 and had problems with cataracts and I think it is likely he has slipped trying to make his way on to the boat.

"I offer my condolences to his family, it will be difficult for them to have lost someone who had live until he was 92 to an accidental death."

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